A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Chelsea Theatre
Whilst another production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is occurring in the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, we sit smugly indoors away from the woeful summer weather, warm and dry in the Chelsea Theatre on the aptly named ‘World’s End’ section of the King’s Road.
Produced by ACS Random, who are now in their tenth year, this is their second consecutive take on Shakespeare with a third due in November (more on that later).
Under Andrew Shepherd’s direction, they don’t stray far from the Bard’s script and the staging is well designed with huge lanterns and drapes creating the fairy enclave.
Limp Lysander, played by Chris Waplington, shines when he is possessed by the demon potion as does Helena, played by, Peta Cornish, at first overcome with jealously and then confused by the object of her desire’s about turn in affections. The serene Hermia is played by Rachel Waring, who has come a long way since her first professional stage show as Titania’s fairy aged just 11.
Richard Armah, by day a dentist, is masterful as Theseus, King of Athens and Son of Zeus and his wife Hippolyta, played by Laurella Fox-Pitt casts a calming influence over proceedings.
Jack Baldwin takes on Oberon, the Fairy King, with good humour and commands a titillating posse of Puck and Robin Goodfellow to do his meddling.
With further intervention from the fairies, Quince and his team of labourers manage to pull off a performance of Pyramus and Thisbe, despite little preparation. Lee White is a stand-out comic Bottom (and also made his own brilliant mask!).
Some of the lover’s costumes might resemble bedsheets but the fairies in their fishnets, gnarled gloves and cobweb frocks are very spookily made up and clearly delight in their mischief.
The crossover of reality and fantasy is obviously something that ASC Random like to explore and with that in mind, after the applause, the audience are treated to a staged advertisement for their upcoming November production – ‘The Shakespeare Conspiracy’ – clearly it worked as it got a mention here.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Until 23rd June, 7.30pm
Chelsea Theatre, World’s End Place, London, SW10 0DR
0207 352 1967
Photo: Holly Wren